Advanced Search

Evanston RoundTable | Evanston, IL
NU Vet Event


home : elections : elections July 21, 2017

3/8/2017 9:00:00 AM
Sixth Ward Alderman Candidates, Profiles

City Council - Nine aldermen serve on City Council for a four-year term, one from each of the nine wards.  City Council sets policy, adopts legislation, approves the City budget, gives advice and consent to mayoral appointments, and hires and fires the City Manager.  Aldermen are organized into four standing committees:  Rules, Administration and Public Works, Planning and Development, and Human Services.  Aldermen are expected to communicate and be responsive to residents of their wards.  

Like the Mayor, Aldermen are considered to be part-time officials.  Salary for the position will be increased in 2017 to $15,990.  Aldermen are also eligible to participate in the City medical insurance plan. 



There are two candidates for alderman of the Sixth Ward: Virginia Mann and Thomas M. Suffredin.

The League of Women Voters of Evanston (LWVE) and the Evanston RoundTable have partnered in preparing profiles of these candidates. Each candidate was asked to provide background information and to answer a set of questions prepared and sent to the candidates by the LWVE and the RoundTable, with answers limited to 150 words. The profiles below contain each candidate’s unedited responses to the questions (up to the stated word limit for each response). A thumbnail sketch of each candidate was prepared by RoundTable staff, based on the background information provided by the candidate.

The candidates are listed in alphabetical order.




Virginia Mann



Thumbnail Sketch:
B.A., Economics and Political Science, Barat College; Additional professional coursework, Harvard University and University of Chicago Writer’s Studio. Current employment: Owner, The Virginia Mann Group, a boutique strategic public relations, corporate communications and public affairs consulting firm; Vice-President, Public Relations Society of America Chicago Chapter. Lived in Sixth Ward 20 years

Civic activities: Founder, TREE (To Rescue Evanston Elms); member, Perkins Woods Steering Committee; leader, neighbors group that helped stop massive re-development of the Presbyterian Homes property; active participant in the effort to bring change at the Evanston animal shelter; former Board Member, Chicago Chamber Choir.

Question: What qualifications and key attributes do you feel qualify you for the position of Alderman?

A lifelong community activist, I don’t hesitate to identify problems and find equitable solutions to those problems. For example, when Dutch Elm Disease hit our community hard in the early 2000s and the city was cutting down our majestic mature elm trees at a rapid pace and high-cost, I sought out alternative solutions. Upon learning that there was an environmentally friendly injection that could save the trees, I reached out to the distributor of the product and negotiated a reduced rate for Evanston residents. With others, I formed TREE (To Rescue Evanston Elms). We helped organize blocks throughout the city to raise funds to inject our public trees. Upon learning that the cost of injections was far less than the cost of cutting the trees down, my colleagues at TREE and I helped bring together Evanston residents to ask the City to implement a change to the City’s practice of cutting down the trees. …

Question: What would be your top three priorities as Alderman? What would you do to advance your priorities?

The Mayor’s Summer Youth Jobs Program is an important tool in teaching young adults marketable skills that will serve them throughout their lives, helping them earn funds and keeping them off the streets. This program should continue to be a priority for Evanston. With a solid background in business and extensive business contacts in the Chicago area, I will work to help grow this program to provide more summer jobs for Evanston’s young adult population

Recognizing that growth and change is an important part of a vibrant and healthy community, I will work with organizations and developers to find a balanced approach to their goals. While we want to encourage growth and development, it must never be at the expense of our current residents nor can it be detrimental to the character, ambiance or property values of our community. This is especially true in the 6th Ward where property values provide a vital resource for the City as a whole. …

Question: What are the top three challenges facing your ward? What would you do as Alderman to address the challenges?

Infrastructure has to be a top priority for Evanston’s 6th Ward. Too often, our streets and alleys flood, creating unpleasant and even dangerous situations for our community. One of my first priorities would be to meet with City staff to determine what steps need to be taken, what role government can play, and what role residents can play in addressing the problem. I would make it a priority to make certain that there is a long-term plan in place to address the problems and that residents are aware of the plan and of the timing for implementing the plan to correct this recurring problem.

Unfortunately, pest control is an issue in parts of our community. It is imperative that the City find effective responses to this problem and implement those solutions. Furthermore, I believe that Evanston can be more proactive in preventing such problems.  For example, I would work with staff to make certain that steps are taken to address the issue prior to redevelopment of alleys or other major construction projects that tend to spread the problem in our community. …

Question: What should the City do to address violence? Is it doing enough, should it do things differently?

Our strong school system and the Mayor’s Summer Youth Employment Program are key tools in addressing violence in Evanston. Continuing to grow the Mayor’s Summer Youth Employment Program will be a key tool in helping minimize violence and growing opportunities for Evanston youth to learn skills and have opportunities that will give them a solid foundation for success in life.

Question: What should the City do to promote economic development in your Ward? In the City? Is it doing enough, should it do things differently?

Evanston is a great City with much to offer residents and businesses. This is especially true of the 6th Ward. The growth of Evanston’s downtown in the past 20 years has been amazing. Today, downtown Evanston is a vibrant area with businesses, restaurants and residences. It’s important that we have responsible economic development along Central Street and other commercial areas in the Ward. I would work with local business organizations and businesses to make certain that happens.

Question: What do you think about police-community relations in your Ward? In the City? What, if anything, would you suggest doing differently?

I think for many people in our ward, police-community relations have been fairly good. Unfortunately, recent events have shown that our positive experience is perhaps not being played out throughout our City. I believe it is critical that the police and the community have a strong, positive relationship to achieve our mutual goal of keeping Evanston safe for all of our residents and businesses. I believe that one of the best ways to make this improvement is through enhanced training for our police officers. They must have the knowledge and tools to work effectively with residents in the wide variety of situations they encounter. As a government, we must also be very clear on our expectations of how citizens will be treated by all City employees – police and others.

Question: What specific strategies would you support to preserve affordable housing and to create additional affordable housing in all areas of the City?

Evanston’s economically, ethnically and socially diverse population is the heart of our community’s strength. Having a broad range of housing options is critical to continuing one of the greatest strengths of our community. Recent programs that appear to have worked very well include a program that received outside funding to refurbish dilapidated properties for low income housing. This has the two-fold effect of improving the community and putting affordable housing stock back on the market. I believe that it would be worthwhile to try to find a way to duplicate that program.

Question: What specific strategies do you believe should be in place to promote equity in the decision-making process for all City departments? What form should citizen input take in this process?

My experience has been that Evanston residents are not shy about sharing their views on a wide variety of issues impacting our City. What is sometimes frustrating are the challenges that sometime occur when residents try to participate in the process. As a communications professional, I would implement two-way communications with 6th Ward residents to make certain that they have direct communication to me about issues that are of concern to them. Their input can help guide decision making for each department.

Question: What would you do to make Evanston a more environmentally sustainable community?

Evanston has a good foundation in being an environmentally sustainable community. Steps that can help further enhance the sustainability of our community include:

Better communication and education for residents about our current recycling program

Expanded weatherization assistance program to help reduce our City’s carbon footprint

Enhance programs to reduce waste

Question: How can Evanston’s Cradle to Career initiative benefit the community?

Evanston is fortunate to have many civic and community organizations that help provide support to our residents. The Cradle to Career initiative is a great way to make certain that we maximize those resources and help assure the health, well-being and success of future generations.

Question: How will you balance your constituents’ interests with the interests of the City of Evanston?

The interests of the people of the 6th Ward and the interests of the City of Evanston as a whole are intrinsically linked. Neither benefits if the other suffers. As I always have, I will continue to work to find equitable solutions to challenges that initially appear to set-up an adversarial situation. The 6th Ward is a vital contributor to the well-being of Evanston and its interests are an important part of the City as a whole. A strong, healthy Evanston is what attracts people to our Ward, and so we must make certain that all of Evanston is a vibrant, healthy and safe community.
                .................................................................

 

Thomas Suffredin



Thumbnail sketch:
  Chiaravalle Montessori, Lincolnwood, Haven, St. Athanasius, St. Ignatius College Prep. B.A. University of Nevada at Las Vegas; J.D., Loyola University of Chicago. Licensed attorney since 2006.  He and his wife grew up here and moved from south Evanston into current home in 2013. 

Civic activities: Past Board Member, Community Health, the largest provider of
free medical care in Illinois; founding Board Member of Chicago Alliance Against Sexual Exploitation,
an organization focused on ending sexual assault and the commercial sex trade. (2006); The Howlett Cup, a mock trial competition for Catholic high schools in the Chicago area named in memory of the late Judge, and former Evanstonian Michael J. Howlett, Jr.; active and engaged father of a 5,4, and 2 year-old with a little girl on the way in April; along with wife, supporters of Willard Elementary and Northminster Nursery schools.

Question: What qualifications and key attributes do you feel qualify you for the position of Alderman?

Having grown up in Evanston and choosing to stay here to raise a family gives me a perspective on Evanston’s issues, challenges and positive attributes that others may not have. I have firsthand knowledge of the importance of our parks, schools and libraries because I grew up using them and now am reengaging with them as a parent. The 6th Ward is fortunate to have Three Crowns and Westminster Place. It is a part of the city that has people at all mile markers on the highway and can be a great place for all of us to live. Those are personal attributes. Professionally, my experience as an attorney qualifies me to ask more probing questions about city policies, exposure to liability and whether we are exercising good legal and common sense in our decisions than others may not be able or inclined to ask.

Question: What would be your top three priorities as Alderman? What would you do to advance your priorities?

My top priority as alderman will be to be responsive to every constituent issue that comes my way. Every email will be returned. Every request will be followed up on. This is a basic government responsibility that has not always been fulfilled. A second priority will be ensuring that our policies deliver government services, big and little, in an equitable and cost-effective way. “Why are we doing it this way? Is there a better way? How do other communities address the same issue?” are three questions that should always be asked. We deserve a government that is professional. A third priority will be accountability. Bad decisions cost Evanston money, undermine our credibility and can get people hurt or killed. People in non-elected positions who make bad decisions need to be held accountable by elected officials, just as elected officials are held accountable by the voters. Responsive. Professional. Accountable.

Question: What are the top three challenges facing your ward? What would you do as Alderman to address the challenges?

Our biggest overarching challenge is not falling further behind neighboring communities in cost of living vs. city services offered. Our ward touches both Skokie and Wilmette. We see the disparity in city services up close. At some point the disparity becomes too much to overlook. There are little things like leaf pickup and pest control that need to be done better. We have traffic safety issues. Stop signs seem to be disregarded in many spots and the stretch of Central between Crawford and Central Park –particularly the eastbound downhill portion—requires speed monitoring and enforcement. Those little crosswalk flags are not magic wands that will stop a car. The biggest thing that the council can do is continue to push for non-property tax revenue sources to help close the gap between Evanston and surrounding communities and that is what I intend to do.

Question: What should the City do to address violence? Is it doing enough, should it do things differently?

Investments in mental health, violence prevention programs and police resources need to be coordinated. I support the Mayor's Summer Youth Employment Program, acknowledge the good work done there, and hope to see it expand in the next four years, but the violence problem is larger than simply expanding youth employment. A hat and mittens are good to have, but they don’t “solve” winter and so it is with youth employment. Jobs are a major component but so are mental health services, community outreach, smart policing and coordination with schools and other organizations. The question of whether the city is doing enough isn’t mine to answer. The data and statistics will determine if the city is doing enough. Every Evanston resident should feel that Evanston is a safe place and to the extent that we fall short of that the city is not doing enough.

Question: What should the City do to promote economic development in your Ward? In the City? Is it doing enough, should it do things differently?

We are fortunate to have several longtime businesses in our ward.  One can complete a dry cleaner-shoe-repair-hardware store-bank-package-drop-grab lunch errand loop in a very small footprint. That is a great thing. We would all like to see a use for the old White Hen on Ewing that is compatible with the immediate neighbors and valuable to the larger community and the Evanston Awning property presents an opportunity for the right buyer.

Deacon’s, and stores like it, aren’t coming back. Continued growth of experiential businesses –yoga, gym, spa—is a good thing but brings different parking challenges than stop-and-shop spaces. Citywide we need to really look at how our parking costs and enforcement affect businesses and if we’re being shortsighted. Skokie collects about $29 million a year in sales tax. Evanston collects $17 million. I will be for anything that closes that gap.

Question: What do you think about police-community relations in your Ward? In the City? What, if anything, would you suggest doing differently?

Community-police relations in the 6th Ward are generally good. Both the members of our police department and our community deserve policies and procedures that reflect Evanston’s values, respect officer safety and do not expose taxpayers to liability. At every community-police meeting that I have been to we’re told to call 911 if anything doesn’t seem right. We need to know that the officers responding to that call exercise sound judgment. We need to know that the policies in place for those officers to follow respect all of our civil rights. Those officers need to know that the community respects their work. Our officers should be highly trained, highly compensated, highly equipped and highly accountable. We deserve the absolute best police department in the area and those officers deserve to know that the community supports them. We all – police, citizens, government – have a lot of work to do to get there.

Question: What specific strategies would you support to preserve affordable housing and to create additional affordable housing in all areas of the City?

The country is in the midst of an affordable housing crisis. 1 in 4 Illinois renters pays more than 50% of household income in rent.

There is no one solution to creating an affordable place to live for all families. Ensuring housing affordability in our community means we must build on existing programs, like our inclusionary housing requirements and our multi-family rehabilitation program, while creating incentives for creating affordable housing and facilitating property acquisition to support affordable housing.  

Evanston also plays a key role in working with state and federal officials to ensure that there are sufficient resources to support affordable housing, through subsidy programs, rehabilitation loans, and tax credits, that allow dollars to flow into Evanston while creating housing for our residents.  This is especially true in light of the new administration in Washington, as many are concerned that federal resources for affordable housing will begin to evaporate.

Question: What specific strategies do you believe should be in place to promote equity in the decision-making process for all City departments? What form should citizen input take in this process?

An Equity and Empowerment Coordinator is a great start. It remains to be seen how that role will take shape. As a competently observant human being who has spent most of my life in Evanston, I know that citizen input is part of who we are. Government IS citizen input. If there aren’t enough teeth in the new position as created, then we’ll have to make a change. Promoting equity has been identified by the city council as a priority. I support whatever helps to achieve that objective and if we have to make adjustments to get there, I am open to listening.

Question: What would you do to make Evanston a more environmentally sustainable community?

We need to think big and small on this issue. Many of Evanston’s older homes could use energy improvements. We talk about youth jobs and this is a good opportunity to partner with groups to train high school kids on basic weatherization and bring that out to the community. That’s thinking small.  As to thinking big, I believe in letting talented people do what they do best. Our Climate and Energy program coordinator should be someone who understands Evanston, is highly qualified and can articulate why and advocate for sustainability is important. Evanstonians generally are environmentally focused, but in order to get full community buy-in, our programs need to make sense to residents who may not be as green. The best way to do that is to show how these things save money for the long term.

Question: How can Evanston’s Cradle to Career initiative benefit the community?

Any collaborative effort of Evanstonians pulling in the same direction is a good thing. Increased early literacy is good for all of us. Agreed upon performance measures are a benefit to us all. I agree with the overall principle that Evanston belongs to all of us and all of us are responsible for its future. “By the age of 23, all Evanston young adults will be leading productive lives.” is a meaningful goal. I see the council’s role as being mindful stewards of all the places where the growth and development necessary to achieve this goal happens. Robert Crown, Harley-Clarke, our libraries, our parks, our streets all need to be safe places. Much of the learning that needs to happen for us to achieve this goal happens outside of classrooms.

Question: How will you balance your constituents’ interests with the interests of the City of Evanston?

We are not a council-at-large system. I am running to represent and advocate for the interests of the voters in the 6th Ward. If something is good for Evanston, it should be good for the residents of the 6th Ward too. If it’s not good for the residents of the 6th Ward, then I will push for something better. I believe anything that increases non-property tax revenue, improves sustainability, safety and equity, preserves and enhances the unique things about Evanston that we all value is good for the 6th Ward—no matter where in the city they occur. I respect the mayor and council as a whole’s responsibility to the entire city, as an alderman I will be 1/9th of that whole, but under the system we have chosen, my role is to advocate for and represent the interests of the residents of the 6th Ward.

 

 







Article Comment Submission Form

The RoundTable will try to post comments within a few hours, but there may be a longer delay at times. Comments containing mean-spirited, libelous or ad hominem attacks will not be posted.

Note: Your full name is required. Your telephone number and e-mail will not be posted. You may type your comments in the space below, or you may type them in a word document and cut and paste them in the space below.

Submit an Article Comment
First Name:
Required
Last Name:
Required
Telephone:
Required
Email:
Required
Comment:
Required
Passcode:
Required
Anti-SPAM Passcode Click here to see a new mix of characters.
This is an anti-SPAM device. It is not case sensitive.
   



Click to View Upcoming Events
<July>
SMTWTFS
            1
2 3 4 5 6 7 8
9 10 11 12 13 14 15
16 17 18 19 20 21 22
23 24 25 26 27 28 29
30 31          
Submit Event




HomeVideosCommunity PostsObituariesClassifiedsAdvertiseAbout UsContact UsHow To
NU Vet Event

Copyright 2008-17 - Evanston RoundTable LLC, Evanston, IL 60202, 847-864-7741, All Rights Reserved
Software © 1998-2017 1up! Software, All Rights Reserved


: